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Nathan Arrington specializes in classical archaeology and focuses on the material culture of ancient Greece, from the Early Archaic through the Late Roman periods. His monograph Ashes, Images, and Memories: The Presence of the War Dead in Fifth-Century Athens (Oxford University Press, 2015) examines how monuments, objects, and images, in their ritual and spatial contexts, changed the way that people viewed and remembered military casualties. A second monograph (Greece and the East: Art, Style, and the Poor in Early Athens), under contract with Princeton University Press, will address connections between the Aegean and the East in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, with a focus on Protoattic pottery and style as practice.
Arrington’s work explores the intersections of art history and archaeology, addressing such issues as the production and consumption of objects, transcultural communication and exchange, memory and materiality, non-elite representation and display, public versus private art, epigraphy as monument, the status of the image in Greece, and stylistic change. His research has been supported by grants from the Gates Cambridge Trust and the Fulbright Foundation.
Arrington is co-director and USA director of the Molyvoti, Thrace, Archaeological Project (MTAP), a co-operation with the Rhodope Ephorate of Antiquities under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The interdisciplinary project investigates a trading port on the Thracian Sea in its changing environmental, economic, and cultural contexts, and within evolving regional trade and power networks. Arrington also has excavated at Corinth, Nemea, Mycenae, Polis (Cyprus), and Tel Dor (Israel).
At Princeton, Arrington is the founding Director of the Program in Archaeology. He also serves as an undergraduate adviser and faculty fellow at Mathey College. He is affiliated with the Department of Classics and the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, and he holds the Class of 1931 Preceptorship. Since 2015, he has been the President of the Archaeological Institute of America, Princeton Society.
Professor Arrington teaches courses in art history, archaeology, and archaeological methods and theory. His classes are organized around specific problems and current research questions, and make frequent use of museum collections as well as rare books. They are designed to engage students with artifacts, sites, and other archaeological data, and to teach them how to critically assess primary and secondary evidence. Each summer, Arrington teaches Art 304, “Archaeology in the Field,” in Greece.
Arrington is currently working on three research projects. The first examines the contexts, motivations, and implications of Greek relations with the Near East in the Iron Age, with a particular interest in the role of the non-elite. The second, based on his excavation and survey work, examines settlement and trade networks in Thrace, and investigates the changing form and function of trading ports (emporia) in the ancient Mediterranean. The third is a study of ornament in early Greek art.